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Summer Mysteries

When the heat is on and tempers flare, you have the perfect condition for a mystery. Brook and Sarah discuss how to stay cool by reading some of their favourite summer-themed mysteries.


Midsummer Mysteries: Tales from the Queen of Mystery (2023) Agatha Christie

Have His Carcass (1932) Dorothy L. Sayers

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) Patricia Highsmith

Rear Window (1954 film) Alfred Hitchcock

The Lost City (2022 film) Aaron and Adam Nee

The Hunter (2024) Tana French

Ladykiller (2024) Katherine Wood

Look in the Mirror (2024) Catherine Steadman

Summertime, All the Cats Are Bored (2019) Philippe Georget

Murder Under the Sun: 13 Summer Mysteries by The Queen of Crime (2019) Agatha Christie

Outer Banks (2020-2023) Netflix

The Box in the Woods (2021) Maureen Johnson

The Cousins (2020) Karen M. McManus

Five Survive (2022) Holly Jackson

The Retreat (2022) Sarah Pearse

The Overnight Guest (2022) Heather Gudenkauf

Her Last Holiday (2021) C.L. Taylor

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) Rian Johnson

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Music: Signs To Nowhere by Shane Ivers – www.silvermansound.com


This transcript is generated by a computer and there may be some mis-spellings and strange punctuation. We try to catch these before posting, but some things slip through.

SarahWelcome to Clued in Mystery. I’m Sarah.
BrookAnd I’m Brook and we both love mystery.
SarahHi, Brook.
BrookHi, Sarah how are you doing?
SarahI’m doing really well. How about you?
BrookI’m great should we tell our listeners a little more about the Cartel?
SarahI think that’s a great idea and we can tell them about what is probably going to be one of the scariest writing experiences for both of us, and that’s the write along that we have coming up.
BrookThat’s right. Talk about spooky. We are going to be writing and sharing as we go with our Cartel members who will also have some opportunity to input information into the story.
SarahYeah, I think it’ll be—definitely an experiment and hopefully lots of fun.
BrookI think it will be a lot of fun, Sarah. So be sure to check out the opportunities to join the Cartel and don’t forget to join our newsletter so you can always know what episodes are coming up next and some other tidbits about what Sarah and I are up to.
SarahAnd we should probably mention that our one-hundredth episode is coming up soon and we will be asking our newsletter readers and our listeners for ideas on how we can celebrate that milestone.
BrookYes, can you believe 100 episodes, Sarah?
SarahI don’t think I ever imagined, Brook that we would get to a hundred.
BrookI know and really so quickly actually. So that’s why we need your help in deciding how to celebrate because we’re just kind of overwhelmed by it all.
BrookSo let’s get to today’s topic: summer mysteries. And you know we often think of Halloween time or winter as the spooky seasons. But summertime has its share of unique scenarios that can be perfect for a good mystery. For instance, summertime signals change. Our schedules change, as does the weather and the scenery. Kids are out of school, staying out later at night and some adults take on different work schedules in the summer. This different world feeling can be the disturbance that kicks off a great fictional story. The summer solstice is the time of ancient pagan rituals and many conspiracy theories surrounding it. But that aside, the long hours of daylight mean members of a community are outside later each night than usual and may see something or someone. That open window may let in more than a cool evening breeze. Summer carnivals, with their wild rides sticky treats and flashing lights are enjoyable yes, but also a bit creepy. The haunted house and the funhouse are both good examples of fun with a side of spooky carnivals bring outsiders in to a quaint closed community. The screams of those enjoying a scary ride might hide the screams of a victim and.
BrookAnd at carnivals there are clowns. Need I say more? Camping or summer camp setups are something we often see in mystery as well as horror fiction. With these there are things to be frightened of out in the forest such as wild animals or a sasquatch. And we like to tell ghost stories around the campfire to have some good eerie fun. And don’t forget that campers are cut off from help if they need it. Likewise, they’re put together in a cabin or a tent with a group of others who are complete strangers. Or are they?
BrookSummer vacation resorts seem carefree and perfect on the outside but in a summertime mystery there’s a truth underneath that vacationers uncover bit by bit that even the beach isn’t safe. Things that add a spook factor. There are the threat of sharks or other creatures of the sea or maybe a storm coming either metaphorically or literally and one of my favorite setups at the beach are treasure hunt stories. When I think of summertime set mysteries. There are some classics that come to mind Agatha Christie’s Midsummer Mysteries collection and that features mysteries starring Miss Marple Poirot, Parker Pyne, and Harley Quinn.
BrookOr Dorothy Sayers Have His Carcass where Whimsey and Vain try to take a walking holiday and of course mystery will ensue. And then another favorite classic is The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) by Patricia Highsmith where the Italian holiday turns deadly. In TV and film there are lots of good examples and I hope we’ll talk about some of those. But one of my all time favorites is Rear Window from the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock we’ve got that intense heat and the open windows that lead to the murder mystery. And another more recent favorite that I discovered was The Lost City and this is one of those treasure hunt stories and also an author as sleuth with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds searching for treasure. You get all the summer and tropical vibes with that one.
BrookThis summer—2024—we have some summer mysteries to look forward to Tana French is releasing The Hunter. This is a mystery set in summertime in Ireland. Katherine Wood will have Ladykiller, which is a Greek Island estate mystery and then one I’m really looking forward to from Catherine Steadman Look in the Mirror. And in this one. The main character inherits a tropical vacation home from her father that she didn’t even know existed. So those are a few of the titles I look forward to this summer when it’s hot and sunny outside and I can best relate to the settings of those books. What about you, Sarah. Do you have some favorite summer mysteries?
SarahI do, Brook. And thanks for that summary. I think one of the things that I like when I’m reading a summer mystery is kind of the descriptions of the heat and how heat plays can often play such an important role in the mystery right? Like tempers are a little bit sorry people are a little bit more irritable because they just can’t cool down. They’re just they’re always covered in sweat and and uncomfortable. And I think that just lends itself to some really great hot tempers and and hot mysteries. So when we were talking about doing this episode, I tried to think back to books that I’ve read that are set in the summer and um one that I read recently is it has summer in the title. It’s translated from French and it’s Summertime, All the Cats are Bored (2019) by Philippe Gorget. And it’s set in the summer in Perpignan in France and that is in the south of France it is hot there. And so there are several scenes where one of the characters is ah is a police detective and you know he’s sitting on the edge of his pool with his wife who’s in the water and he’s dangling his feet and you can just kind of sense the relief he gets from the heat as they’re having this conversation. And of course there’s lots of wine and great descriptions of food as well. But it was it was a good read. It’s a little bit dark, but it was definitely a good read. And you mentioned Agatha Christie and she has a lot of stories that are set in the summer um and you know I don’t know if it’s the summer drinks kind of lend themselves to a poison or I know she’s set a lot of books in um, in the Middle East where it’s kind of we would consider summer all the time. There was another collection of short stories that was released by the Agatha Christie estate called Murder Under the Sun and it probably has some of the same stories that are in the book that you mentioned the midsummer mysteries. Ah, but another example of some of Agatha Christie’s work that’s set in the summer.
BrookI would agree that heat that um, it really comes through is almost you know another character or a force in these stories and you definitely since that going back to rear window. And those closeups you know they’re always sweaty and definitely uncomfortable. But I think that the sweat also because we sweat when we’re afraid too. So sometimes I think you know there’s that close proximity of like am I afraid am I hot am I You know am I stressed out. There’s that very sensation of being irritable like you said and I I Just love that about these.
SarahYou mentioned treasure hunt and there’s a series on Netflix that’s set in the Outer Banks but is also called Outer Banks. And it is summertime and it’s it’s more of a YA series. I would say all the characters are in high school or just finishing high school I think, so they’re all in shorts and flipflops and t-shirts and and really enjoying summer and being young but also with this um with this mystery. And another set of mysteries that set in the same area is Melissa Bourbon’s mysteries. And we’ve had her as ah as a guest and her ah Book Magic Mysteries are set in the Outer Banks of the Carolinas in the US.
BrookAh, yeah, that is a great series and a great example of that summertime feel in Melissa’s series and I like that you mentioned the YA aspect of this because I do think we get I mean certainly there are lots of stories where the characters are adults, but kids have all this time on their hands and so I think summertime lends itself really great to a YA or even younger like a middle grade mystery because. Kids are out on their own they’re riding their bikes around town. So we see a lot like I remember Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys stories that are both set in the summertime. And yeah, it’s it’s a great opportunity to send them on an adventure.
SarahAnd and you’re right there you know I think there are some great examples of YA mysteries that are are set in summer another couple that I’ve read are Maureen Johnson’s Box in the Woods which is the fourth book in her Truly Devious series and the characters are working at a summer camp and there’s a mystery for them to solve while they’re there. Karen M McManus has The Cousins and that features cousins who go to a summer resort community I think it’s an island where their grandmother runs the community and they um the resort there and there’s a lot of mystery family mystery that they have to um solve while they’re there.
SarahAnd another one is Holly Jackson’s book Five Survive. So she ah wrote this series A Good Girls Guide to Murder. This is a standalone. It’s not related to that series at all. But it’s you know a group of young adults who go on an RV vacation and get into some trouble.
BrookOh my goodness. Those are three wonderful suggestions and I hadn’t even thought about the idea that summertime is usually when family reunions happen and what a great opportunity to put a bunch of family together and then uncover family secrets and and yeah I love those. And it’s very funny because I was just thinking about the Maureen Johnson series recently I think I’ve read two of those and I have a hankering to continue. So, I’m glad to know that there’s one coming up that’s set in the summer.
SarahWell and some of her books are set in the winter I can’t remember which one it is but there’s definitely one you know I know we’re not talking about winter mysteries but she kind of covers. A lot of seasons in in her bucks.
SarahSo I have two other books that kind of came to mind when we were talking about this topic, Brook and so one is the retreat by Sarah Pearse and I read this because you recommended The Sanatorium by her. And I don’t know if it was when we were talking about winter mysteries or another topic. But The Sanatorium takes place in winter during ah a winter storm and The Retreat takes place at a holiday retreat in the summer with the same character.
SarahAnd the other book, and I just finished reading this, and I picked it up I didn’t realize that it was a summer mystery but it’s actual dual timeline with one mystery taking place in during a severe winter storm and the other part of the story taking place during the heat of the summer. So it kind of captures both of those tensions that we can get due to weather. And this is called The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf. And I I really enjoyed that as well.
BrookOh that sounds great I like the dichotomy between those two things because it is a very different experience. So that’s a great idea. Well one that I’ve read recently was Her Last Holiday by C L Taylor and it was and this one was a really fun ride because it’s playing off of those cultish retreats. People go to and some of the trouble that ensues and so I found that really um, fascinating I have watched and listened to some true crime about some of the trouble that people get into when they go to some of those retreats and so this was fun to see it fictionalized and it was a great read.
SarahIt sounds very interesting.
BrookYou know, thinking about TV summer mysteries, Sarah one thing I found that is kind of interesting is many times those series are set darker than you would imagine like maybe they’re a little bit gray a little dark. As if the producers think that we can’t have you know so mystery if it’s bright and sunny but I did really love that in Glass Onion. They completely went for it. I mean it is the brightest of colors. It’s sunny. They’re wearing really great clothing. Actually you know these people have money so they’ve got really fun summertime outfits and they didn’t shy away from that at all and I don’t think it took away from the mystery at all. It was a fantastic mystery.
SarahUm, well that’s such an interesting observation book the kind of way that light impacts a mystery and you’re right, A lot of the time when we’re watching mysteries. It’s really dark. Um, but there’s almost something. . . I don’t even know if I can think of the right word but there’s there’s almost something that’s a bit daunting or intimidating when it’s so bright, right? Like you know when it’s summertime here, everybody’s wearing sunglasses because it’s so bright, right? We have to shield ourselves from that light. So it’s almost like you can have too much light and you know what happens when there are no shadows.
BrookYeah, and from a storytelling standpoint I think you can really use that because it’s like there’s nowhere to hide right? The spotlight is on so to speak. So, yeah I found that interesting and I really liked it about that movie.
BrookWell, Sarah this has been so much fun talking about summer mysteries in the summertime and I look forward to going and picking up some of your recommendations.
SarahI feel the same way, Brook. And I look forward to reading a few of the books that that you’ve highlighted today, too.
BrookSo thank you everyone for listening. Don’t forget to go out and join the newsletter consider becoming a Cartel member and join in on all the fun. Until next time, I’m Brook.
SarahAnd I’m Sarah and we both love mystery.